first-year college composition courses originated at Harvard in
1874 in response to complaints about upper classmen's poor writing.
Thus, this problem is not new, but it is one that we can work
together to redress.
In "The Language of Exclusion: Writing Instruction at the
University," Mike Rose explains that when writing is considered
a "basic skill," this reductive conception of writing marginalizes
composition instruction. For if writing is deemed a "basic skill,"
then it also is assumed that composition can be taught based on
some simple rules by poorly paid adjuncts in one or two required
Writing, however, involves much more than knowledge of a subject
and grammar (the "think then write" model). Effective
writing depends upon an understanding of composing as a multifaceted
process, an awareness of discursive conventions, and an ability
to think critically. Rose, therefore, recommends that writing
courses should be rich in academic content and writing also should
be taught across the curriculum.
The curriculum for RLC 110-111 is intellectually rich as students
learn to think critically using historical and cultural analysis
(see Connections). Students also
learn to engage in the multifaceted process of writing, to conform
to discursive conventions, and to meet college-level expectations
for grammar. Of course, every students does not and cannot fulfill
all of these goals in one or two terms. Instead writing instruction
must be reinforced across the curriculum even though every professor
has neither the class time nor the training to teach writing explicitly
and thoroughly. Professors in many different departments can
help to dispel student misconceptions about academic writing.
Continue on to the five myths about academic writing.
Check out some recommendations and calculations.